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Traveling on a train for a couple of hours can be a bit of a rough ride, but it’s also worth it in the end. Aside from experiencing slow travel, taking in the sights between trips can help you connect with a place. Here are some common mistakes that people make when traveling long distances via train.

 

Not booking tickets in advance 

Like buying an airline ticket, the early bird gets the worm. Booking a train ticket at the right time can help you secure the lowest possible price. It is suggested that people book their tickets at least 120 days in advance to ensure that they’ll get the best possible deal. The cheapest tickets are usually offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Unfortunately, last-minute tickets are not guaranteed as certain times and routes sell out.

 

Arriving too late

Getting on a train is not as similar to running into the subway at the last second. Although you don’t necessarily have to arrive at the station as early as you would for a flight, it’s still important to give yourself enough time to get on board. Some of the major railways suggest that you arrive at least 30 minutes before boarding, with places like Eurostar recommending at least 45 and Alaska Railroad suggesting at least an hour. 

 

Not Boarding Quickly

If you’re boarding at a stop somewhere in between stops, it’s important to get ready to board when you hear the train coming. Even if you’re boarding at a major station, it could be a midpoint on a route– be prepared to board fast. 

 

Packing too much

One of the benefits of train travel is that it allows you to keep your things with you at all times, but it’s important to pack smart. One essential tip is that you should pack light and use bags with wheels. It’s also important to anticipate the stairs at the station and navigate through the train cars once you’re on board.

 

Depending on the area you’re traveling in, your luggage’s storage options may vary. For instance, in European railways, there are large areas where you can store your items, but in Japanese trains, you’ll most likely find overhead racks. Depending on the area, it may be better to keep your luggage as compact as possible. 

 

Sitting in the wrong seat or car

The seat assignments on different train systems are often different. It’s important to understand the specific details of the one that you’re traveling on so that you can make an informed decision. For instance, in most cases, the seats in the business car are first come, first served. 

Some railways provide a specific seat inside a certain car. In other cases, you may be assigned a seat based on the car numbers. Arrive early to check the location of the car numbers. Sometimes, trains may be split and sent in different directions, and it’s important to make sure that the car you’re traveling in is following the intended route.